This is some of the worst timing for a midweek game ever. Fans, and I imagine the manager and players, are still reeling from that loss. that surely gave Coyle quite a few things to cover in training and 3 days really isn't enough time. However there is a bright spot in the form of Stu Holden, who will be starting as confirmed by the Official BWFC Twitter. His return couldn't come soon enough, and after 3 games for the reserves, he's finally making it. If anything could give this club a boost, it would be our yank.Other than the addition of Stu, Coyle has said "there will certainly be a number of changes", which is something Bolton fans have been requesting for weeks. There is obviously the forced change of dropping Klasnic as he is suspended (keep an eye out for a post on that later), but besides him there should be big changes in the midfield and forwards. I fully expect Ngog to start, and for the first time in a song time, I hope Kevin Davies drops to the bench. He has had an unspectacular season and it's time to give someone else a shot. Tuncay slotting himself in behind Ngog, as suggested by @08DC on Twitter, sounds like a nice combination.
The midfield poses an even bigger problem. Last season a Mark Davies-Stu Holden duo in the center proved the most effective, but since then we've added Nigel Reo-Coker and Darren Pratley, who will both be vying for the start. Including Fabrice Muamba, this means there are 4 possible partners for Stu. I would be interested to see what the promising Pratley could achieve alongside Holden.
The defense, undoubtedly the weakest area of the park for the Wanderers, will likely remain mostly unchanged if Coyle acts as expected. Many Bolton fans want Knight to be dropped, but I think he hasn't done any worse than Cahill this season. Dedryck Boyata will not be making an appearance, as his loan agreement forbids it, so expect Steinsson to return.
Villa will be a tough test for a team in limbo right now. They've drawn 4 times already this season, but the format of the cup will obviously lead to a more decisive result. Alex McLeish is familiar with Carling Cup success, as his Birmingham side beat Arsenal in the final to win it only last season. Villa are unbeaten in their last 8 matches at home, a streak they'll look to continue.
Things are grim in Horwich right now, but if Coyle plays his cards right (and that is a big if), a Carling Cup match against a decent side is just the time to right the ship.